Vacationing with Grandkids
America's foremost expert on family vacations explores the (usually) pricey intergenerational trip
Then there's the Marriott "Village" (the first of its kind) at Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, showcasing a low-cost Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn, and Spring-Hill Suites all in one campus just a few minutes from Disney World. There's a big water playground, restaurants, shops, and organized kids' activities, and room rates starting under $100 a night. Log on to marriottvillage.com.
Cruises never miss!
Grandparents and grandkids give cruises high marks because there are so many options for every age group. Just as important are the well-organized, supervised children's camps that operate most of the day and evening so granny and gramps can kick back. Even better, because of the number of new and ever-larger ships being launched, there are a lot of excellent deals as cruise companies struggle to fill cabins. Look, in particular, for cruises where the third and fourth passengers in the cabin go for under $200. To save even more, consider a three-or-four-day itinerary. And World Wide Cruises, one of the largest cruise-only discount agencies in the country, is touting some Royal Caribbean sailings this winter. Get details at 800/882-9000 or cruises.com. Even Princess has fares as low as $599. Learn more at 800/PRINCESS or princess.com.
Take the grandkids out on the town-your own or some other fun, colorful American city. Chicago, for example, has the likes of Sue (the world's most complete Tyrannosaurus rex) and American Girl Place (a shopping entertainment complex designed for little girls). Boston offers whale-watching and American history galore. Head to New York for Times Square and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. In San Diego, there's the famous zoo and loads of family-friendly activities amid sun-splashed surroundings.
Most major art and science museums now offer special hands-on family and children's programs. Visit the Web site of the Association of Science Technology Centers at astc.org to link to your science museum of choice; for art museums, try AMN.org.
For the best hotel deals, go over a weekend and don't forget to check your desired city's visitor bureau for special promotions. Web sites such as Expedia.com and Travelocity.com also offer hotel deals, as does quikbook.com, with savings of up to 40 percent in many cities (or call Quikbook at 800/789-9887).
A sweet spot indeed
Home to lots of mouthwatering temptations including a factory turning out some 30 million chocolate kisses a day, Hershey, Pennsylvania, has avenues named Cocoa and Chocolate, and streetlights shaped like Hershey's Kisses. Hershey Park, with 60-plus rides and such, is one amusement park the grandparents will like as much as the kids, and there are plenty of other ways to keep busy: learning how chocolate is made at Hershey's Chocolate World, hands-on activities at the Hershey Museum, a 23-acre garden and Butterfly House, even a zoo. It's also just 45 minutes from Lancaster and the attractions of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Get fully informed at 800/HERSHEY or www.hersheypa.com (for Pennsylvania Dutch country information, contact 800/723-8824 or padutchcountry.com).